Grant awarded: £15,000

Phase completed: research and development

Innovate to Save Fairbourne yLab

Fairbourne is a village in North Wales, served by Gwynedd Council. In 2014, a Shoreline Management Plan was published estimating that it would not be sustainable to maintain flood defences in the village after an approximate period of forty years, when sea levels are predicted to rise by 0.5m. This created uncertainty in the community, with financial and emotional resilience being tested in the face of climate change and its effects.

The idea

Gwynedd Council developed a project that would test whether a Community Interest Company (CIC) could purchase houses from their owners, who might be keen to move but left unable to sell by the proposals in the Shoreline Management Plan. The CIC would then let these houses as a social landlord, easing pressure on the Council’s waiting list, and reinstating some choice to those residents living in Fairbourne.

What happened?

Gwynedd Council worked with Fairbourne Moving Forward, a well-established local stakeholder group to develop the idea, build knowledge about its viability and test whether their solution would be attractive enough for local residents.

They worked to create a financial model for the CIC, which they named Cysur (the Welsh word for reassure) that would provide a good solution for those selling their homes, as well as for the Council, in creating additional social housing capacity.

In developing the project, Gwynedd Council also introduced other elements that they hoped would create additional sustainability and improve wellbeing in the town; a community-run cafe, office space, and a consulting room to enable residents to see health practitioners closer to home.


  • As the vision of a sustainable community for Fairbourne emerged, new elements were introduced to the plan. Whilst offering an opportunity to increase well-being in the village, there was a move away from the social housing focus and this meant that the repayable loan offered by Innovate to Save was no longer the best source of finance for the project.
  • Working effectively with a group of stakeholders is very important in delivering a cross-community project. Fairbourne had a strong and active community group that was effective in influencing and gathering information from residents affected by this project, but the strongest voices were those who were already established in the community, and not those who intended to move to Fairbourne.

What's next?

Given the importance and urgency of the need to develop and implement sustainable solutions to adapting to climate change, the Fairbourne Moving Forward project and Gwynedd Council are continuing to look for appropriate funding to implement Cysur.

This case study is also available in Welsh.